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Zapadnaya Central News Agency (ZCNA) – State owned
Zapadnaya Channel One (Z1) – State owned, Propaganda
Sofia News Network (SNN) – Privately owned
TelephonoVisionoOneo(TV1) - Privately owned, Satire
The Red Star – Privately owned, Communist
The Times – Privately owned, Capitalist
The Gazette - State owned
The Pineapple - Privately owned, satirical
Edited by Imperator Azenquor
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[b]ZCNA News –Constituent Assembly to present draft constitution to President[/b]
The 100 member constituent assembly that was tasked with drafting a new Zapadnayan Constitution has announced that it will vote on the final version of the draft constitution today. According to the assembly, the draft constitution is expected to be approved by an overwhelming majority of the delegates and will be sent to President Bogomolov for final approval by tomorrow.
The constituent assembly has spent six months drafting the document. During the drafting period, the assembly accepted thousands of submissions from citizens who were given the opportunity to suggest articles for incorporation into the constitution. In it’s deliberations, the delegates were tasked with ensuring that the resulting constitution reflects the social and cultural characteristics of Zapadnaya and is a document that represents the ideals and aspirations of a wide cross-section of our nation. The current draft document is the third such document to be presented to the delegates for their consideration. The previous two documents failed to be adopted by the constituent assembly due to the objections of a large number of delegates.
The text of the draft constitution will not be revealed to the public until it is signed by President Bogomolov.
In other news, the President addressed a meeting of the Executive Council of the State Law and Order Restoration and General Pacification and National Development Council (SLORGPNDC) outlining the importance of the recently adopted ‘Look Outward’ policy. In his speech to the Council, the President stressed the need for interaction with the international community and shrugged off criticism that changing the nation’s isolationist policy would undermine national development. The President also reaffirmed that the nation would continue it’s forward march towards the restoration of democracy, but at a pace that is consistent with the needs of the nation.
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ZCNA - Draft constitution approved by assembly, backed by President
The draft constitution has been approved by the constituent assembly and sent to President Bogomolov for his approval. In a vote this afternoon, the assembly overwhelmingly approved the draft document, paving the way for the transition to democracy. While a handful of assembly delegates expressed concerns that some of the articles in the draft constitution would infringe upon certain rights, at least eighty percent of the delegates voted in favor of the document. The delegates voting in favor of the document included representatives of unions, public organizations, lawyer’s groups, women’s groups and representatives of minority groups.
After a quick review of the document, the President endorsed the proposed constitution and ordered the dissolution of the constituent assembly. In a statement made by the President in his capacity as the Chairman of the Executive Council of the State Law and Order Restoration and General Pacification and National Development Council (SLORGPNDC), he stated that the approval of the draft constitution is the first step on the path to democracy for Zapadnaya. He thanked the members of the constituent assembly for their hard work and dedication and pledged to move forward with the national democracy project according to the timetable laid out by the Executive Council.
The President also noted that the new constitution would enter into force once it is approved by the Legislative Council and the Zapadnayan Armed Forces. However, he stated, the Executive Council would ensure that the necessary institutions of democratic governance are in place before the formal handover of legislative and executive powers to their constitutional bodies.
In other news, newly promoted three star General Teodora Petrova, who served as Acting Foreign Minister has been officially appointed Foreign Minister of Zapadnaya. General Petrova was officially appointed to the post after yesterday’s meeting of the Combined Councils of the State Law and Order Restoration and General Pacification and National Development Council (SLORGPNDC). General Petrova will continue to discharge her duties as the Chairman of the External Affairs Council.
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SNN – Proposed Constitution sent to the President, nuclear war overseas
The unelected constituent assembly has forwarded a final draft constitution to unelected President Bogomolov for his approval today. The proposed constitution, which contains a number of controversial articles, will likely enter into force after the approval of the President and the Executive Council. Some of the more controversial articles in the document include granting the Health Minister the power to prohibit all forms of contraception (Article 69), the prohibitions on certain genres of music (Article 70) and the prohibition of public displays of affection in order to uphold society’s moral standards (Article 66).
The document also enshrines the role of the Zapadnayan military in national politics and even reserves seats for the military in the proposed Senate. The military will also retain significant powers that could have far-reaching impacts on the daily lives of Zapadnayans. Most worryingly, the military has been tasked with upholding the ‘secular order’ of the state, sparking fears that the new constitution would set the stage to allow the military to topple any future democratically elected government which is not pliant to the military’s demands. Complaints about these controversial articles of the constitution are likely to fall on deaf ears as it becomes increasingly clear that the constitution will be passed and that there is nothing that the Zapadnayan citizenry can do about it.
In international news today, an apparent war has broken out in Asia. The crisis appears to have begun due to a situation between the Philippines and allegedly a Chinese nation. It is unclear what has sparked the conflict, but it has been reported that the Philippine President is among the dead. There are also reports suggesting that the attack on the Philippines may have been carried out by an unknown third party according to a statement from one of the Chinese leaders. The resulting conflict is reported to have drawn in other Asian nations and has resulted in the use of nuclear weaponry on a horrifying and truly shocking scale. The loss of human life reported is said to be extremely shocking.
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Z1 – Zapadnaya: leading the way to gender equality!
“Greetings Comrade Citizens! Have you worked hard in the service of our Zapadnayan Fatherland today? Under the noble banner of Zapadnaya and the wise guidance of the Combined Councils of the State Law and Order Restoration and General Pacification and National Development Council (SLORGPNDC), we march toward the future with our heads held high!
Today, the National Association of Farmers (NAF) presented it’s annual report to the Combined Councils. The Councils, recognizing the role of our patriotic farmers in the survival and continued independence of our great nation, praised those compatriots who have opted to take up the burden of farming with characteristic patriotic zeal and fervor. The NAF reported to the Combined Councils that agricultural production has increased by 3.7% over last year. Despite these important and historic gains, the NAF has pledged to do more in the service of the Zapadnayan Fatherland. To the surprise of the Combined Council members, the NAF has pledged to target increased agricultural output of 4.5% for next year. 
President Bogomolov also addressed the Combined Councils and praised the dedication of the farmers and their steadfastness in setting the new target for next year. He also pledged to increase the financial support to farmers in order to help the NAF achieve it’s target for next year. In his closing remarks, President Bogomolov offered his congratulations to Foreign Minister General Teodora Petrova on her promotion to three star General and her continued patriotic service to the Fatherland in her capacity as Foreign Minister and Chairman of the External Affairs Council.
With General Petrova at the helm, the nation of Zapadnaya is bravely positioned as an example to the world of true gender equality in a single nation. Our nation’s women are marching, shoulder to shoulder, leading the vanguard of gender equality! They valiantly lead the way, warmed by their patriotic spirit and unyielding courage, clearing the path for future generations to follow in their footsteps and to stand in awe of their achievements. Their every action serving to carry forth the torch of equality into the darkness of the world. After all, a nation cannot truly be free until equality has replaced inequality and justice prevails for all.
Comrade Citizens, we salute our nation’s patriotic women. We salute their unceasing sacrifice for the cause of national progress. We salute their courage and indefatigability. Take pride, Comrade Citizens, in the fact that three of the five branches of the Zapadnayan military are led by women. What other nation can say the same? The so-called ‘glass ceiling’ has been smashed and pulverized by our nation’s patriotic and revolutionary spirit. Future generations will march forth, crushing the flimsy shards which remain further underfoot until even the existence of such an entity will be naught but a distant memory.
Comrade Citizens, I bid you good night.”
Edited by Imperator Azenquor
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[b][u]Address to the Nation by HE President Bogomolov[/b][/u]
Comrades, I am pleased to report that we have made significant progress in the implementation of our national roadmap to the restoration of democracy in the past months. We have seen the drafting and implementation of a new constitution to govern Zapadnaya. This constitution is by no means perfect, but it is an important foundation upon which our nation will reconstruct our democracy. I am certain that our new constitution is a firm and sturdy foundation upon which the democratic institutions of Zapadnaya can be rebuilt.
With the constitution now in force, we must make preparations for the next step on the path to democracy. Over the next thirty days the government will verify all eligible voters and update the electoral rolls to ensure their accuracy. Once this exercise is complete, preparations will be made for Presidential and Parliamentary elections as stipulated in the constitution. In order to ensure a smooth transition, the Parliamentary elections will be held first. Once the election date is set, then I will order the dissolution of the Legislative Council of the State Law and Order Restoration and General Pacification and National Development Council and empower the Parliament to take up those powers afforded to it by the Zapadnayan constitution.
Within ten days of the successful completion of the Parliamentary elections, it is my intention to dissolve the Executive Council and to step down as President of Zapadnaya. In doing so I can ensure a smooth transition of power to the newly elected civilian President. Once this process is completed, then our transition to democracy will be complete. Let us continue down the path to democracy, advancing steadily and cautiously. Let us look towards the future with renewed hope and optimism, for there are many opportunities ahead.
It has been an honor to serve as President for these five years.
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[b][u]ZCNA – Voter’s list updating begins[/b][/u]
[i]“The transition to democracy continues as the National Electoral Council (NEC) starts it’s voter verification exercise today. A team of 7,500 workers from the NEC will spend the next thirty days fanning out across the country as they register new voters and verify existing voters as they update the national voter registry. Once this process is complete, the new voters list will be made available for the public to verify and to correct any errors.
The verification process is not an easy one as it requires electoral officers to confirm the existence and residence of all eligible voters who have not been struck off the list by death or ineligibility. While the NEC team will register some new voters during the verification process, citizens are reminded that they may register to vote by appearing in person at their local NEC office. Given the current population, as verified by the last census, and the number of voters removed from the list for death or ineligibility, the new electorate is estimated to consist of 10,850,000 voters out of a population of almost 13,000,000.
Once the verification process is completed, new voters will be issued with their Voter ID cards and assigned to a voting location within their province or oblast.”[/i]
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[b][u]SNN – The Hawaiian Regime: Run by lunatics or shrewd politicians?[/b][/u]
[i]Utter the phrase ‘Social Sovereignty’ and you will undoubtedly think of the Hawaiian regime. On our round table discussion today, we will ask the question: is Hawaii run by lunatics, or by shrewd politicians?. Joining us today, from the University of Sofia, Dr. Ivo Stanev and from the Institute for Regional and International Policy (IRIP), Dr. Leonid Damyanov.”[/i]-Host
[i]“Let’s get right into the discussion. Is the government of Hawaii a rational regime?”[/i]-Host
[i]“No. Not by a long shot. The Hawaiian regime is essentially what happens when the 'inmates run the asylum', so to speak. When left to their own devices, they spout lofty goals of this so-called ‘sovereign socialism’, but whenever questioned about the hypocrisy of their ideology versus their actions, they react like a 5 year old throwing a tantrum.”[/i]-Dr. Stanev
[i]“I disagree. While their reactions aren’t tempered and diplomatic in nature, I believe that they generally feel that they are surrounded on all sides by ‘imperialist enemies’. Whether or not this is the reality is up for debate. But I have no doubt that a large number of Hawaii’s citizens actually believe in their government’s ideology, or at least are afraid to question that ideology. I also believe that the Hawaiian government has displayed an inability to ‘read the global temperature’. In the modern age, that could be very dangerous.”[/i]-Dr. Damyanov
[i]“Next question: Should the international community engage with the Hawaiians?”[/i]-Host
[i]“Absolutely not. The international community should isolate the Hawaiian regime until it changes it’s behavior. I mean really? The Hawaiian regime openly offers ‘paramilitary training’ and ideological indoctrination for foreigners. Take a look at their immigration policy. Take a look at their ‘Deficient Genetics policies. This is not the type of government that nations should engage with. Not in the slightest. It is the type of government that should be hit with a massive trade embargo.”[/i]-Dr. Stanev
[i]“I agree to an extent that we shouldn't directly engage with the Hawaiian regime. However I do believe that the international community should simply bypass the regime and deal directly with the Hawaiian people. Also caution should be exercised in targeting punitive economic and trade embargoes as they have impacts far beyond the targeted government or regime.”[/i]-Dr. Damyanov
[i]“Well gentlemen, thank you for your input. That’s all we have time for today.”[/i]-Host
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[b][u]ZCNA Breaking News: Tikal issues ultimatum to Hawaii[/b][/u]
[i]“We have some breaking news coming in to the news desk right now. We have confirmed that the nation of Tikal has issued an ultimatum to the SOCSOV Hawaiian regime. According to Tikal, the Hawaiian regime is to surrender and to cease SOCSOV activity.
We are not certain what the cause of the ultimatum by Tikal is at this moment. The government of Tikal stated in the announcement of it’s ultimatum that it had serious evidence of Hawaiian SOCSOV activities in South America.
There has so far been no response from the Hawaiian regime. That’s all from the news desk, we’ll now return to your regularly scheduled programming.”[/i]
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[b][u]ZCNA – Hawaiian gov’t claims citizens were ‘raptured’[/b][/u]
[i]“In a rather bizarre news story today, there are reports that the Hawaiian government (or it’s media) has claimed that it’s people have suddenly disappeared. There are unconfirmed reports that the Hawaiian government, or an entity which purported to speak on behalf of the aforementioned government suggested that all of the citizens of Hawaii were ‘raptured’ and have ‘completely disappeared’ leaving their territory uninhabited.
While it is obvious that large numbers of people do not simply disappear off of the face of the earth, the report apparently claimed to be serious and not a prank or hoax. Local analysts are stunned by the claims and are attempting to determine if the broadcast was an attempt to avert invasion or the last gasp of a dying ‘SOCSOV’ regime.
The news story has sparked an interesting reaction in Zapadnaya. Dozens of students in the capital decided to skip school and claim that they were ‘temporarily raptured’ in order to avoid classes for the day. An unnamed man in the city of Varna jilted his bride-to-be at the altar by leaving a sticky note suggesting that he was ‘raptured like the Hawaiians’ and that his fiancé ‘shouldn’t bother looking for him’. The note allegedly also had an address where the fiancé was asked to return her wedding ring.”[/i]
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[b][u]ZCNA – Voter verification exercise complete, Vice-President resigns[/b][/u]
[i]“The Electoral Council has announced that the voter verification exercise is now complete. Thousands of new voters have registered across the nation and tens of thousands of Zapadnayan citizens have been sent their new voter ID cards. According to the Electoral Council, the finalized electoral list consists of 10,615,700 voters across the country. Of those ten million, 9,973,999 are already in possession of their voter ID cards. The remaining voters will receive their cards within the next seven days.
With the list of voters now verified, final preparations are being made for the Parliamentary and Presidential elections. While it was initially suggested that the Parliamentary elections would precede the Presidential polls, the government is considering a proposal to have both elections simultaneously. If the Electoral Council approves that proposal voters will likely be directed to cast two separate ballots on election day.
In other news, Vice-President Paskal Dragomirov has announced that he will resign as Vice-President and Chairman of the Legislative Council within 24 hours. According to a statement from Vice-President Dragomirov, he is resigning in order to stand for election. He determined that it would be difficult for him to run for the Presidency while serving as Vice-President and so he took the decision to resign. President Bogomolov praised Vice-President Dragomirov’s service and accepted his resignation with ‘sincere regret’.
Given the short time until the polls, the President decided that it would not be necessary to appoint a new Vice-President. President Bogomolov also announced that Vice-President Dragomirov’s resignation presented the ideal moment to dissolve the Legislative Council. According to a decree signed by the Executive Council, the Legislative Council will be dissolved after 48 hours and it’s powers will be held by the President until the day of the elections. This means that for the interim, President Bogomolov holds both executive and legislative powers.
Foreign Minister and Chairman of the External Affairs Council General Teodora Petrova has also sparked rumors that her resignation is imminent after postponing a scheduled meeting of the External Affairs Council and cancelling a handful of scheduled engagements. Additionally, the military announced that it will be promoting General Petrova to the honorary rank of Field Marshall. Such a promotion is usually only granted to a retiring military officer as a gesture by the military.”[/i]
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[b][u]ZCNA – Foreign Minister retires from the military[/b][/u]
[i]“Foreign Minister Field Marshall Teodora Petrova today announced her retirement from the military. In a short statement presented to the External Affairs Council, the Foreign Minister expressed her sincere gratitude for the support of the Armed Forces in carrying out her duties as Foreign Minister and Chairman of the External Affairs Council. She stated that it had been an honor and a privilege to serve in the army, but that the time had come for her to return entirely to civilian life. She also cited the symbolic importance of transitioning to a mostly civilian led administration ahead of the next elections and stated that the transition is an important signal of the commitment of the country to the democratic path.
Her statement did not address the rumors that she is considering entering politics after her retirement takes effect. According to the statement, Field Marshall Petrova will remain as Foreign Minister until the election of a new government in the next few days. This means that for the first time since 2009, Zapadnaya has a civilian Foreign Minister.”[/i]
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ZCNA News: President-elect Elena Dobreva sworn in
-President Dobreva
“President Elena Dobreva was sworn in at a short ceremony at the Parliament building in Sofia this morning. After taking the oath, President Dobreva gave a short speech in which she pledged to do her utmost in service of the people of Zapadnaya during her tenure. She also expressed concern about the developing situation in Europe and it’s potential impact on regional and international stability. On local matters, President Dobreva pledged to give an address to the nation and the parliament within a week to update the nation on important matters of state.
-PM Grigorova
Shortly after the swearing in ceremony for President Dobreva, the newly elected National Assembly held it’s first session. At the meeting, Justice & Development Party (JDP) leader Iskra Grigorova announced the formation of a governing coalition consisting of the JDP and the European Future Party (EFP). According to Dr. Grigorova’s statement, the coalition would be led by her as Prime Minister with EFP Parliamentary leader Alexei Boyanov as Deputy Prime Minister. The remaining members of the Council of Ministers would be presented to the Assembly for a confidence vote shortly. With the EFP’s 188 seats and the JDP’s 168 seats, the coalition will have a comfortable 356 seats in the 500 member Assembly. 
The situation in the Senate is less clear since the coalition will only have 37 of the 100 Senators supporting the government. An agreement with the Republican People’s Party (RPP) could see the government obtaining the support of 44 Senators, but such an agreement would not overcome the opposition’s 46 Senators. This could possibly hamper coalition policy as passage of laws through the Senate would depend upon the support of either the opposition Socialist Party (SP) or the 10 Military Senators."
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[b][u]ZCNA: President Dobreva orders snap military drill[/b][/u]
[i]“In her first official act since taking office, President Dobreva has ordered a snap military drill to test the readiness of the Zapadnayan armed forces. According to an official decree from the office of the Presidency, all forces in the Eastern Military District (EMD) have been mobilized and placed on high alert until further notice. The decree orders all troops assigned to the EMD to be combat ready within an hour.
Once the Presidential decree was issued, President Dobreva flew to the eastern city of Varna in order to carry out a personal inspection of troops from the EMD. The President was accompanied by Sr. General Nikita Radkova, Head of the Zapadnayan Army. President Dobreva is expected to remain in the east of the country until tomorrow afternoon.
The current military drill is said to include 40,000 personnel, 50 tanks, 200 combat aircraft and an unspecified number of naval vessels.”[/i]
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[b][u]ZCNA – Prime Minister presents budget to Parliament[/b][/u]
[i]“In her capacity as Finance Minister, Prime Minister Grigorova presented the government’s first budget to Parliament today. In her address to Parliament the Prime Minister announced that the government will make tackling the nation’s high unemployment rate a key pillar of its term in office. She pledged to take concrete action to encourage a more rapid rate of private sector job creation with a particular focus on heavy industry and manufacturing.
The Prime Minister revealed that the government intends to spend Z$419.04 Billion this fiscal year and is projecting revenues of Z$396.13 Billion over the same period. The approximately Z$23 Billion deficit will be resolved by new government borrowing. The additional Z$23 Billion shortfall will increase Zapadnaya’s national debt to approximately Z$268 Billion this year. While the national debt was on a downward trajectory from 1996 to 2008, the Prime Minister maintained that the additional spending is absolutely essential and vital to the country’s national security interests.
According to the Prime Minister’s presentation, the government intends to increase military spending to Z$96 Billion and reduce Pensions and Benefits spending to Z$87 Billion. Education and Healthcare expenditures will remain unchanged at Z$52.38 Billion and Z$87.30 Billion respectively.
The Opposition Socialist Party (SP) has rejected the government’s budget as ‘the first step to demolishing the social safety net’ and accused the Prime Minister of racking up new debt in order to fund massive new military and police programs. Instead, the Opposition suggested, the government could cut wasteful spending in the public sector and strengthen the social safety net. In the Opposition’s counter proposal, they indicated that the government could afford to spend only Z$43 Billion on the military and could maintain benefits spending along with a significant budget surplus.
Parliament will vote on the budget tomorrow. With the coalition’s large majority passage of the budget is assured.”[/i] 
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[b][u]SNN: Miners’ strike over pay and conditions[/b][/u]
[i]“The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called a 48 hour general strike to protest their pay and working conditions. According to the official NUM spokesman, the miners have not received an increase in pay for the last three years despite a consistently rising cost of living in the country. The NUM also rejected the new budget which proposes increases to a number of taxes that they argue will hit miners and their families harshly.
According to the NUM, the union reached out to President Dobreva and Prime Minister Grigorova asking to discuss the proposed tax increases prior to their implementation but were rebuffed by the Premier. Faced with that they believed to be no further avenues for dialogue the union voted to order a 48 hour general strike beginning today. For the duration of the strike Miners have been ordered to put down their tools and to cease all work related activity for 48 hours. Additionally, the NUM has submitted a list of demands to the mining companies and the Prime Minister. This list outlines demands for increased safety standards and increased financial compensation for miners.
After the strike was announced, Prime Minister Grigorova issued a statement reiterating that the government will not negotiate with any party that is undertaking industrial action. The statement also questioned the legality of the vote by which the NUM decided to strike and revealed that the government would seek a judicial order to end the protest. The Prime Minister also suggested that the government might consider bringing charges against the NUM General Secretary for undermining the national economy.”[/i]
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Z1 – NUM calls illegal strike to cripple economy
“The National Union of Miners, which was once a valiant institution defending the rights of Zapadnaya’s miners, has allowed itself to be used as a tool against the very miners that it once sought to defend. The NUM, despite opportunities for dialogue and consultation, has objected to the government’s tax proposals and has called a 2 day strike. In a puzzling conspiracy a handful of NUM members reported that the ballot boxes appeared to have been stuffed prior to voting on the proposed strike. The end result, likely determined in advance, claimed that two-thirds of the membership supported the strike.
The proposed plot to use the union to attack the government was orchestrated by no less than the NUM General Secretary himself. According to a source inside the General Secretary’s office, the plot involved the union calling a strike to escalate the situation and to damage national coal production. The next stage in the plot would involve additional unions joining in the strike while making increasingly unattainable demands of the government. The primary objective would be to plant a knife firmly in the back of the democratically elected people’s government. Once the government would be pushed aside in a tidal wave of treacherous protest, the General Secretary would make a sudden transition to politics by presenting himself as the savior of the nation.
Fortunately for the miners and the people of Zapadnaya, the General Secretary’s plot has been foiled by NUM members who remain loyal to the cause of a miners’ union that represents miners rather than one which seeks to use them as mere pawns in a wider plot. These members have bravely shouldered the responsibility of shining the light of justice on the plots hatched in dark rooms. Miners! Do not be fooled! The General Secretary is only interested in himself and his insidious plots! The evil hands of the Communist Party are at work here!”
Edited by Imperator Azenquor
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ZCNA – President Dobreva chairs NSC meeting


“H.E. President Dobreva chaired the first meeting of the National Security Council since the return to democracy at the Presidential residence this afternoon. At the meeting the President urged the NSC to remain vigilant in light of both regional and international instability and to continue to work unceasingly in defense of the nation.


The military members of the NSC fully briefed H.E. the President on all matters related to national security policy and discussed the results of the recent military drills in the eastern regions. In order to permit the President to appoint new officials to the NSC, all members of the NSC tendered their resignations. The President, however, rejected the resignations and urged the members to remain at their posts during the time of transition. The President also expressed her continuing and unwavering confidence in all of the members of the NSC."

Edited by Imperator Azenquor
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[b][u]ZCNA – NUM strike ruled illegal; Miners ordered back to work[/b][/u]
[i]“Less than 12 hours after the National Union of Miners called a two day strike to protest against pay and working conditions, the government has obtained a judicial order declaring the strike illegal. According to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, the Supreme Court has ruled that the NUM strike is illegal and has ordered all striking miners to return to work without delay. The court agreed to grant the order after evidence of ballot tampering in the strike vote was presented by the government. Despite the objections of the NUM legal representative, the court agreed with the government and ruled accordingly.
Under the terms of the court order, all striking workers have been given two hours to return to work or face disciplinary action. The privately owned National Mining Company (NMC) has welcomed the ruling and has sharply criticized the NUM’s actions. The NMC has revealed that it will be making ‘appropriate deductions’ from workers’ salaries to account for the lost work hours. No further disciplinary action, the company revealed, will be taken against workers who joined the strike. However, the NMC has pledged to terminate any worker who refuses to return to work within the timeframe of the judicial order.
The NUM General Secretary has criticized the court order as well as the allegations of ballot rigging as a ‘government backed plot to undermine the rights of unions to strike’ and has rejected the return-to-work ultimatum. As there are no further avenues of judicial appeal, it is unclear how the NUM will proceed.”[/i]
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[b][u]Z1 – Conspiratorial plot by NUM union boss defeated as workers demonstrate national spirit[/b][/u]
[i]“The plot by the dastardly NUM General Secretary has been foiled and resoundingly defeated as the workers joined hands with the democratic government to deliver the coup de grace to the insidious plot! The Supreme Court, the highest judicial authority in the Motherland, issued a stern rebuke to the General Secretary exposing his plots and conspiracies for all the nation and the world to see. There was a mood of unity and national solidarity in the courtroom as the workers applauded the ruling and harshly criticized the General Secretary.
After rigging the vote to ensure that his plot would succeed, the once proud General Secretary has been reduced to irrelevance as the workers have foiled his latest machinations. The revolutionary workers, buoyed by their patriotism and strong delegation to national progress, will now have to undertake the task of reclaiming their union from the clutches of the General Secretary. This battle will not be easy, but the workers have expressed a dedication and a willingness to reclaim their union that should make the entire nation proud. Glory to Zapadnaya! Glory to the Workers! Down with plots and conspiracies!”[/i]
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[b][u]SNN – Gov’t moves to censor internet and ban hijab[/b][/u]
[i]“The government of Prime Minister Grigorova has launched a shockingly wide ranging assault on the rights of citizens to express themselves both in their choices of clothing and in their ability to express dissent on the internet. These two proposed laws, now before the parliament for debate, may mark the start of a sustained effort to undermine the rights of Zapadnayan citizens. As predicted, the government has claimed to be upholding the secular nature of the state while launching this campaign.
In Parliament, the Justice Minister Ms. Selena Staneva (JDP) supported both acts which were introduced by her coalition colleagues in the European Future Party (EFP). She spoke at length about the need to uphold secularism and the importance of the separation of religion and politics. When questioned about the timing of the two bills, the Justice Minister sought to play down suggestions that an attack on liberties was underway by claiming that the bills were simply ‘clarifying certain issues’ which were not clear in the coup-imposed constitution.
The first of the two bills, the Internet Content Regulation Act, seeks to grant a government agency the right to censor information on the internet if it is deemed to be ‘harmful to social harmony’. The act’s provisions are so vague in their definitions of social harmony that the so-called Internet Regulation Bureau (IRB) will have wide ranging authority to identify offending content and order it to be censored with little or no oversight. In fact, the act is so vague that a concerned citizen who posts information about government corruption on the internet could find him or herself afoul of the new law if the government appointed agency rules that exposing government corruption would undermine social ‘harmony’.
The second bill, the Headscarf Ban Act, will officially prohibit the wearing of religious headcoverings in several places. Under the proposed law, it will be a minor criminal offense to wear a headcovering in any public building, state office, healthcare facility, or school. The act will also permit the government to take disciplinary action against any state worker who runs afoul of the ban. The proposed law is nothing less than an attack on religious liberty and a callous attempt by the Zapadnayan government to push religious conservatives out of several institutions of state. Under the new law a Muslim citizen who wears the hijab will be required to remove her headscarf in order to enter any school. If she, conscious of her religious rights, refuses to remove it, she can be expelled from her school for doing so.
The military dictatorship may have given way to an elected government, but it seems the attacks on the rights of citizens will continue unabated.”[/i]
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[b][u]ZCNA – Parliament debates internet content regulation and headscarf ban[/b][/u]
[i]“The Parliament has held an initial debate on two proposed laws. The first, the Internet Content Regulation Act, is aimed at confronting the issue of hate-speech and discriminatory content being disseminated via the internet and at preventing the use of the internet as a tool to incite criminal actions. In her presentation to parliament in support of the bill, Justice Minister Ms. Selena Staneva (JDP) stated that while the internet provides unfettered access to content and information, we must exercise some caution in allowing inflammatory content or content aimed to incite criminal activity or disorder from being left ‘un-combatted’. 
To address this, the government announced it’s intention to create an Internet Regulation Bureau (IRB) as a non-partisan entity that will work with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to identify and block offending content. According to the Justice Minister, the IRB will operate under a charter that expands on the provisions of the Internet Content Regulation Act and ensures that the power of censorship is only used when it is absolutely needed. She also sought to assure the members of the Parliament that the IRB will be answerable de jure to the Ministry of Interior and de facto to the Parliament. The IRB, she said, will be required to record each censorship request, the decision taken and the reasons for that decision and will be required to present this information to any Member of Parliament upon request.
The second bill currently before the Parliament for debate is the Headscarf Ban Act. This act, according to the Justice Minister, will seek to uphold the secular nature of the state by prohibiting the wearing of religious headcoverings in public buildings, hospitals and educational institutions across the country. Employees in the public sector are also expected to comply with the proposed ban.”[/i]
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[b][u]SNN – Islamist group al-Kebab announces formation[/b][/u]
[i]“In a somewhat strange development, a statement was released to all media this morning announcing the formation of an Islamist group called ‘al-Kebab’. The announcement, which contained several references to Islam, stated that the group is ‘non-violent’ and is dedicated to addressing the ‘discrimination against Islam in Zapadnaya’. The group described itself as being ‘Islamist’ but accepting of the realities of society. The organization also claims that it will strive to be the voice of the ‘unrepresented 300,000 Muslims’ in Zapadnaya. The group has harshly criticized a government proposal to ban the wearing of the hijab in public buildings.
The group also announced that it’s leader is Aziza Nour Sa’ida Hania Hafsa al-Rashid. According to reports Mrs. Rashid is said to be a 32 year old University graduate from the province of Targovishte in the northeast of Zapadnaya. Mrs. Rashid previously helped to organize a series of interfaith dialogues in the province. It is unclear at this time why she decided to form this organization or how many members of the organization are in Zapadnaya.
When asked to comment on the issue, Interior Minister Dragomir Dimitrov stated that ‘the formation of an organization without obtaining the appropriate approvals and registration is illegal’ and that since the group al-Kebab had not filed any documentation to be registered as an organization that the group and membership in the group by any Zapadnayan citizen ‘is a criminal offense’. When asked about the content of the announcement itself, Mr. Dimitrov rejected claims of discrimination against Muslims as being ‘unfounded and deliberately divisive in nature’."[/i]
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  • 3 weeks later...
[b][u]SNN News - President Dobreva under pressure over foreign policy, delays address to Parliament[/b][/u]
[i]“These past three months have not been good for President Dobreva. The President who took office with the clear aim of Zapadnayan entry into the European Community and deeper integration with the rest of Europe is seeing large parts of her party’s foreign policy platform simply collapse. Political pundits now openly wonder if there will be a European Community left to join when the decision is made here in Zapadnaya. The President is also facing harsh criticism for perceived failures in the proper management of the nation’s defense policy.
Despite the fact that the Presidency does not directly determine foreign policy, the President has significant influence due to the fact that her European Future Party (EFP) is a member of the governing coalition. Strangely, despite the EFP being led by Alexei Boyanov in Parliament, much of the hostility regarding the EFP’s troubles is being directed at the President.  According to political analyst Dr. Max Reaver, the coalition’s decision to appoint Mr. Boyanov to the post of Defense and Armaments Minister in addition to his duties as Deputy Prime Minister has unwittingly given the impression that Mr. Boyanov serves more as a Presidential stand-in than a party leader. This perception is reinforced by the fact that article 46 of the Constitution empowers the President to appoint the Defense Minister.
The President is also under pressure over the perception that the government was caught by surprise when the neighboring Greek state collapsed recently. As a result of the growing controversy and the President’s seeming unwillingness to respond to questions on the issue, the Presidency announced that the President’s address to Parliament will be postponed until next month. While no official reason was given for the delay, it is widely believed that President Dobreva will attempt a recalibration of Defense policy and will attempt to further separate herself from the EFP. The delay has also sparked rumors that there may be a cabinet reshuffle which may be used as a face-saving way to remove Mr. Boyanov from the Defense Ministry without unduly embarrassing the EFP.
In the first official opinion poll taken since the Presidential elections, President Dobreva’s approval rating has fallen to 39.2% down from 49.8%. Despite the decline in the President’s approval ratings, Prime Minister Grigorova still has strong support. According to the latest polls, the Prime Minister holds a 50.1% job approval rating. Will the President be able to weather the storm, or will Zapadnaya’s first President since the restoration of democracy be forced from office before the completion of her mandate?”[/i]-Reporter
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  • 2 weeks later...
[b][u]SNN News – President Dobreva’s lackluster term in office nears end[/b][/u]
[i]“In a few days, Zapadnayan citizens will once again be asked to go to the polls to vote for the next government. This will be the second election since the restoration of democracy in Zapadnaya and will serve as an important test of the durability of our democratic institutions. This will also mark the first peaceful handover of power from one democratic government to another since 2009.
President Elena Dobreva has in fact, despite the detractors, done an admirable job after being dealt a disadvantageous hand. Despite her resounding Presidential victory, the European Future Party (EFP) of which she is a member did not manage to win a majority in either the Parliament or the Senate. Instead, the European Future Party (EFP) entered government as the junior coalition partner of the Justice & Development Party (JDP). The clash of political ideologies between the pro-EuroComm EFP and the regionalist JDP created much friction in Prime Minister Grigorova’s government.
Despite the fact that this dysfunction was at the root of the problems of the Grigorova administration, the blame would often be laid at the feet of President Dobreva despite the fact that the Presidency does not determine foreign policy and internal affairs. With regional instability and the European Community moving from calamitous failure to calamitous failure, the government faced a situation where a new foreign policy direction, which met the demands of the coalition that could often agree on nothing, was needed. For her part, Prime Minister Grigorova did a fairly decent job while balancing foreign affairs and the sluggish local economy.
President Dobreva envisioned and implemented the first key reforms to the armed forces since the restoration of democracy and led a National Security Council which until that point had been accustomed to giving rather than receiving orders from a civilian. She brought a military accustomed to spending as it wished and sending the bill to the treasury, to heel and increased accountability in armed forces expenditures.
As voters go to the polls once again, we are left to ponder, how many of the failures of the Grigorova government will be unfairly blamed on President Dobreva? And additionally, how many of the President’s successes will be appropriated by the coalition now desperately seeking reelection?”[/i]
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